40 per cent of Bulgarians would prefer to be their own boss, survey on self-employment says
Forty per cent of Bulgarians polled in an international survey said that they would prefer to be their own bosses rather than be employees.
The survey covered the 27 member states of the European Union and 13 non-EU countries, the latter including Russia, India, Israel and Turkey.
The percentage of Bulgarians who favoured self-employment is above the European Union average of 37 per cent who said that they would prefer self-employment. Fifty-eight per cent of those polled in the EU said that they would prefer to be employees, but this average represents a wide range of responses.
In six EU countries, a relative majority of respondents say they would rather be self-employed than work as an employee, with an absolute majority giving this answer in two countries:Lithuania(58 per cent) and Greece(50 per cent). Self-employment is least popular in Sweden (22 per cent), Finland (24 per cent), Denmark (28 per cent) and Slovenia (28 per cent).
In 19 of the total 27 EU countries, a majority of respondents say that they would prefer to be an employee, most strikingly in Sweden (74 per cent) and Finland (73 per cent). There is least interest in working as an employee in Lithuania (32 per cent) and Bulgaria (40 per cent).
The survey found that men are more likely than women to prefer self-employment (by a margin of 42 per cent to 33 per cent), while women are more likely to prefer working as an employee (63 per cent vs. 53 per cent).
Younger respondents are more inclined to express a preference for self-employment: 45 per cent of 15-24 year-olds say they would prefer to be self-employed, as opposed to 35-37 per cent of people in the three older age groups.
What holds back Europeans from starting up a business?
- The fear of bankruptcy is one of the largest obstacles for many people to start a business: 43 per cent of EU respondents say they would be afraid of the risk of going bankrupt (-6 points compared with 2009 survey), while 33 per cent say that the risk of irregular income would make them afraid of setting up a business (-7 points).
- Again there are considerable differences between countries: in three EU member states, a majority of respondents say that they would be afraid of the possibility of going bankrupt if they were to start a business. Results range from Romania (56 per cent) to Finland (23 per cent). Spain (55 per cent) is the only country where a majority of people say that they would fear the risk of losing their home or property; only 12 per cent say this in Cyprus.
- A large majority of EU respondents think that it is difficult to start one’s own business due to a lack of available financial support (79 per cent) and due to the complexities of the administrative process (72 per cent). Moreover 51 per cent of EU respondents think that it is difficult to obtain sufficient information on how to start a business.
- There are wide national differences on these questions. For example, 96 per cent of people in Greece cite a lack of available financial support, whereas only 52 per cent of people in Finland do so. And while 77 per cent of respondents in Greece say it is difficult to obtain sufficient information, only 20 per cent of respondents in the Netherlands complain about this.
- The non-EU results are broadly in line with the EU results: at one end of the scale, 88 per cent of people in both South Korea and Russia say that it is difficult to start one’s own business due to a lack of available financial support while, at the other end of the scale, just 56 per cent of those in Norway say this. The proportion of people in the non-EU countries who agrees that it is difficult to obtain sufficient information ranges from 78 per cent in China to 34 per cent in Switzerland.
Key considerations when starting a business
- In Europe 87 per cent of the respondents who have started or taken over a business say that having an appropriate business idea was important to their decision to do so; 84 per cent say that getting the necessary financial resources was important.
- EU respondents stressed other important factors to their decision to start a business, as the contact with an appropriate business partner (68 per cent), a role model (62 per cent) and addressing an unmet social or ecological need (61 per cent). Also dissatisfaction with their previous work situation was an important factor to 55 per cent of people who started a business:
- At country level, the issue of whether an appropriate business partner was important produced the widest variations, with results ranging from 90 per cent in Hungary to 48 per cent in Malta. The number of people who say that contact with an appropriate business partner was important to their decision increased in several non-EU countries, notably Norway (64 per cent, +10 points). However, in Turkey (63 per cent, -23 points) it declined considerably.
- Whether a role model is needed also produced broad differences, ranging from 86 per cent in Italy to 43 per cent in Denmark. The non-EU data show a very similar picture. At one end of the scale, 87 per cent of people in Brazil say that a role model was important to their decision to start a business, as do 84 per cent in both China and South Korea; but less than half of the respondents say this is Russia (46 per cent) and Norway (47 per cent).
- The proportion of respondents saying that addressing an unmet social or ecological need was important in their decision to start a business rose by 6 percentage points at EU level. In contrast, the non-EU data show that the number of people who say that addressing an unmet social or ecological need was important in their decision only increased in four countries, most strikingly in South Korea (89 per cent, +18 points) and China (86 per cent, +11 points). Elsewhere, this factor was regarded as being less important than in 2009, with the largest decline occurring in Japan (73 per cent, -13 points).
- The proportion of respondents who regard dissatisfaction with work as an important factor declined in 19 EU countries, with the largest falls in Slovakia (51 per cent, -24 points) and Latvia (51 per cent, -21 points). There was a similar pattern in the non-EU countries, with a range of increases and decreases. The largest upward evolutions occurred in South Korea (77 per cent, +14 points) and China (74 per cent, +9 points), while the most substantial negative changes were recorded in Turkey (54 per cent, ‑21 points) and Japan (39 per cent, -14 points).
Reasons for wanting to be self-employed
- Personal independence remains a popular reason for wanting to be self-employed amongst EU respondents, though it is less widely popular than in 2009, the only exception is Sweden. Among the non-EU countries, personal independence or self-fulfilment are not the main reasons for self-employment.
- In Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Ireland and Denmark, more than four out of 10 favour self-employment because of the freedom to choose the place and time of one’s work. The same reason for being self-employed was given by at least 40 per cent of respondents in China, South Korea, Norway and Brazil. On the contrary, relatively few people are motivated with this in Hungary, Spain, Turkey and Russia.
- In nine EU countries, more people now say that they would like to become self-employed because of better income prospects than did so in 2009.
- Most of EU respondents (50 per cent) have started business because they came across an opportunity. More than a quarter of respondents (29 per cent) decided to start a business out of necessity and 15 per cent took over a family business.
- Coming across an opportunity is the reason given by the most EU respondents in all but two of the 27 Member States, the two exceptions being Greece and Romania, where more people say they started their business out of necessity. This is also the most popular answer in 11 of the 13 non-EU countries.
- 67 per cent of self-employed people in the EU started their business from scratch. Men are somewhat more likely than female respondents to start their business this way (69 per cent vs. 63 per cent).
- In six Member States at least 80 per cent of respondents say that they started the business themselves: Estonia (89 per cent), Cyprus (84 per cent), Hungary (84 per cent), the Czech Republic (82 per cent) and Slovakia (81 per cent). However, less than 60 per cent of respondents give this answer in three Member States: Slovenia (53 per cent), Luxembourg (57 per cent) and Portugal (58 per cent).
- Among non-European countries, entrepreneurs in Russia (85 per cent) and Israel (79 per cent) are most likely to start their business from scratch.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani presented on January 9 2013 an action plan to support entrepreneurs and revolutionise entrepreneurial culture in Europe. The plan emphasises the key role of education and training to nurture new generations of entrepreneurs, and includes specific measures to help budding entrepreneurs among young people, women, seniors, migrants, and the unemployed. The high level of EU unemployment leaves untapped human resources, especially amongst women and young people. The plan also tackles obstacles to entrepreneurship such as ambitious measures to facilitate start-ups and new businesses, make transfers of business ownership more successful, improve access to finance, and give honest entrepreneurs a second chance after bankruptcy.
Tajani, responsible for entrepreneurship and industry, said: “To make it very clear: more entrepreneurs mean more jobs, more innovation and more competitiveness. Becoming an entrepreneur and making a vision come true takes a lot of personal risk and effort. Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our time. Entrepreneurship is also the most powerful driver of economic growth in economic history. Therefore, we want to make entrepreneurship an attractive and accessible prospect for European citizen. This is the key message of our action plan. If we can unleash Europe’s entrepreneurial potential, we can bring back growth to Europe.”
On January 9, the European Commission published details of its plan and proposals on its website.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)